Consumers have high expectations when they belly up to the bar. Set your own high bar with over-the-top garnishes and other unique creations to juice boozy beverage sales.
Don’t underestimate the appeal of a well-seasoned cocktail rim. Push beyond the typical margarita-and-salt combo for more surprising takes on the concept. Think ground cereal ingredients, tajín (a Mexican spice blend that combines chile and lime), or even sprinkles! The trend now is to trail a bit of the rim down the side of the glass for extra visual impact and flavor, so go big with garnishes.
You are well-versed in using fruit and even vegetables to garnish cocktails, but today’s trend is all about cutting them into cute and interesting shapes. Grab some small cutters (there are loads of options online), and use them to create orange flowers, peach hearts, and mango stars. Then use them to dress up your mimosas, Bellinis, and Aperol spritzes.
Sometimes a cocktail needs to just go there, pulling out all the stops and directly competing for your attention with the drink itself. These are some of the most social media-ready drinks out there and having one or two on your menu will bring guests right to your bar. In addition to the crab on a Bloody Mary, I’ve seen a tiny PB&J atop an Old Fashioned and a cucumber tea sandwich festooned to a gin & tonic. In both cases, they took an ordinary drink to the next level.
Smoke and Mirrors
Another way to bring some fanfare to your cocktail is with a smoking garnish. This could be a flaming orange peel on a Sazerac or charred rosemary with any scotch-forward cocktail. Smoke brings both a visual element and olfactory intrigue to the drinking experience, but it can come across as gimmick-y. To avoid that, use this trick sparingly and only with cocktails where it’s truly a good fit.
A Strange and Unusual Plant
Look to the garden, or even your favorite houseplant, for garnish inspo. A big piece of aloe makes a stunning garnish for a margarita (and riffs on the agave used to make tequila), while bright chive blossoms look like fireworks popping out of a Gibson, playing on the traditional pickled onion garnish. But remember to keep it cohesive: If you can incorporate leaves or flowers that are related to the cocktail ingredients themselves, all the better.